How did you do with your resolutions for the year 2011? About the same as for other years? Can you even remember what those resolutions were?
Why do we struggle so much with resolutions? Is it because they are not realistic? Is it because we try to do it completely on our own without any outside
help (even from God)? Failure is one of the biggest disappointments in life. Is it possible to start over successfully?
As we enter into this New Year we have another opportunity to start over. Having the privilege of starting over is one of the things in life that gives us hope and courage as we look to the future.
As we take down our 2011 calendars and replace them with 2012 calendars we really can start over. In Romans 12:12 (NIV) the Holy Spirit gives us some great ingredients for a really good New Year’s
resolution. The encouragement is to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.” Life would be so sweet if everyone could adopt and live out those three pieces as a New Year’s resolution.
“Be joyful in hope” should be pretty easy for Christians because our hope is in Christ and “that hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” (Romans 5::5 NIV)
“Be patient in affliction” can be considerably more difficult because we do not like affliction. Who of us likes to be mistreated by people who are rude, inconsiderate and downright nasty? Where can we get the strength to be patient in affliction? It takes a giant transformation to behave so nicely when afflicted? Our comfort is that the power to do that does not come from within us, but from outside of us. When we were baptized “we were buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4 NIV) No one in the history of mankind had to deal with as much affliction as Jesus, our Savior! And He did it out of love for us so that we do not have to fear eternal affliction!
“Faithful in prayer” keeps us in touch with God–Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus spent entire nights in prayer with His Father in heaven so that He would have the strength to carry out His mission of dying for sinners so that they might have the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. Prayer is an excellent way to stay in touch with God and His love and power.
How does this threefold resolution make a difference in our lives and the lives of those around us? It does because the Holy Spirit is at work within us to make us more and more the children of God. As children of God we seek to do the same things that give Him such delight. John 3:16 tells us that God delights in loving and giving. God has entrusted us with all of life and life’s resources and desires that we manage them wisely according to His purposes. Loving and giving are at the heart of Christian stewardship.
May God bless us all as His stewards in this New Year of 2012!